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Early season anglers face cold water danger

May 23, 2011

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With the walleye and northern fishing season opening on May 14, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that even on a warm day in the boat, water temperatures can hover in the low 50s.

A 2007 report by the U.S. Coast Guard stated that a boating accident is five times more likely to be fatal if the water is colder than 60 degrees.

“Cold water can kill in ways that you might not expect,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. “Nearly everyone knows that immersion in cold water can cause hypothermia – the abnormal lowering of the body’s core temperature. What most don’t know is that cold water immersion has several stages, any one of which can cause death.”

Victims who experience an unexpected fall overboard suffer initial cold water shock in the first minute, which involuntarily causes them to take a series of big breaths, called hyperventilation.

If a person’s head is underwater, they can inhale more than a quart of water and drown immediately.

Those who keep their head above water will continue hyperventilating as their blood pressure jumps, Smalley explained.

If they can’t control their breathing within 60 seconds, they’ll suffer numbness, muscle weakness or even fainting, which leads to drowning.

A person with heart disease may experience sudden death due to cardiac arrest.

A victim who survives the first minute of cold shock and hyperventilation will progress to the second stage called “cold incapacitation,” or swimming failure.

Within about 10 minutes, rapid cooling of the extremities causes muscle stiffening so a person will no longer be able to perform the tasks, such as swimming, holding onto a floating object, or putting on a life jacket. Even yelling for help can be difficult.

Hypothermia is the third stage. Smalley said there is a common misperception that it sets in almost immediately after a person lands in cold water.

However, a victim won’t start to become hypothermic for 30 minutes.

Severe hypothermia can take an hour or more to set in, depending on the water temperature, body mass, clothing, the amount of struggling and several other factors.

A body core temperature of 95 degrees is considered hypothermic, loss of consciousness occurs at about 86 degrees, and death is imminent when the core temperature drops below 82.

Unless a person is wearing a life jacket, drowning will occur long before severe hypothermia gets them.

Most boating fatalities are the result of capsizing or falls overboard, not collisions between boats running at high speed.

“We see it time and time again in Minnesota boating accidents,” Smalley said. “A single boat on a lake capsizes, the victim isn’t wearing a life jacket, has no warning or time to put one on, and drowns due to the effects of cold water.”

Experts recommend that people who end up in the water stay with the boat, even if they aren’t able to get back in.

They are more likely to be seen by potential rescuers if they are next to a boat.

A person should only swim for shore if wearing a life jacket, if the likelihood of rescue is low, or they are close to shore and aren’t able to climb back into or on top of the boat.

The key is the life jacket, Smalley said.

A person who suffers swimming failure or loss of consciousness will stay afloat wearing a life jacket, but drown without one.

Smalley said smart anglers wear a life vest from the time they enter the boat until they return to shore.

“There is no time to put one on before a boating accident,” Smalley noted. “It would be like trying to buckle your seat belt before an imminent car crash.”

As of May 9, there had been no 2011 boating fatalities in Minnesota.

Last year at this time, there had been one death on Lake of the Woods, where a woman who was not wearing a life jacket fell from her boat and drowned.

Wavery Gun Club upcoming events

The Waverly Gun Club will be hosting a number of classes and events in the upcoming weeks and months.

A complete list of the upcoming action at the Waverly Cub Club is listed below.

For more information, contact Al Moy (612) 889-4423; Ken Reinert (612) 308-9259; or Russ Johnson (763) 218-7376.

The Waverly Gub Club is at 4465 DeSota Ave. SW, Waverly.

• Youth trap league

The youth trap league is open to the public, and has begun.

It runs every Monday starting at 6:30 p.m. until Monday, July 9.

Shotguns, ammo, and targets are provided.

• Summer trap league

The summer trap league has started, and individuals and teams are still welcome.

For additional information, visit the web site www.waverlygunclub.org.

• Handgun league

The final handgun league night of May is Wednesday, May 25 from 5 to 8 p.m.

The cost is $15, while you supply your own ammo – 30 rounds per gun.

League shooting is at 25 yards, and any legal handgun is allowed.

For more info, call Russ Johnson at (763) 218-7376.

• Ladies only night

The ladies only night is open to the public, and no membership is required.

It takes place the second Tuesday of every month through October, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Ammo, targets, .22 cal pistols, and rifles are provided at no charge.

You may bring your own ceter fire handgun and ammunition, if you prefer.

A NRA certified range safety officer will be present on the shooting line, and instruction is available upon request.

Rain or shine, shoot from the comfort of a shelter.

Handguns at seven to 25 yards, and rifles at 50 yards.

Good Neighbor Days Fishing contest in Howard Lake June 25

The 29th annual Howard Lake Good Neighbor Days fishing contest will be Saturday, June 25 on Howard Lake.

Registration is from 7 to 8 a.m., with shotgun start for the fishing at 8 a.m. The contest ends at noon.

Entries will be limited to the first 200 received.

The cost is $30 if received by Saturday, June 18, or $35 if received after Monday, June 19.

Entry forms are available at local buisnesses, or at the web site, www.howardlakegoodneighbordays.webs.com.

For more information, contact Denny Decker at (320) 543-2992.

Second annual Ugly Fish Contest on Howard Lake

The second annual Ugly Fish (carp) Contest is Friday, June 10 starting at 10 p.m., until Saturday, June 11 at 10 a.m.

The contest is on Howard Lake, starting at Lion’s Park.

This is a free event, with prizes paid per pound of carp caught – two-person teams.

All teams must pre-register by calling Berwyn (612) 867-1985 or Rod (763) 291-0546.

The maximum number of teams is 15, and teams cannot have more than two bow-and-arrow shooters per boat.

All contestants must fish Howard Lake and abide by fishing laws concerning rough fish as printed on pages 59 and 60 of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations 2011.

All carp (if contestant does not want them) will be disposed of at the Lion’s Park landing by the touranment sponsor.

The contest is sponsored by the Howard Lake Watershed Alliance and the Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club.

Fishing Klinic for Kids at Buffalo Lake

Mark your calendars for the 14th annual Fishing Klinic For Kids Saturday, June 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Sturges Park on Buffalo Lake.

All area kids and their parents are welcome.

This is the largest event of its kind in Minnesota.

There will be three fishing pros on hand to share their expertise.

Come and participate to enjoy the fishing, demonstrations, vendor booths, food, games, activities, fun, and prizes.

There is something for everyone at this family-friendly event.

For more information on the organization, go to www.fishingklinicforkids.com

Conservation officers’ weekly report
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers in Stearns and Wright counties.
CO Mies gave fur/trapping talks to Wright County schools at Ney Park.
CO Mies worked on several complaints.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) found that the cold windy weather kept most anglers at home on opening morning, but opening Sunday with the return of the sun, anglers came up in force.
Anglers were having a hard time getting the walleyes to bite in the area lakes, but those that went for the pan fish did fair in the area.
Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, angling with extra lines, operate a watercraft without PFDs and watercraft registration.
The new regulation on transporting a watercraft on public roads with the drain plug removed was found to be in low compliance, a lot of boaters were educated on the new law.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked a detail at Fort Snelling State Park.
He also worked the Cedar Lake netting detail.
The fishing opener was worked with fewer anglers out, probably due to the bad weather.
Fishing success was normal for opening day with almost no violations detected.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) worked the fishing opener on Lake Minnetonka.
Few fishermen had some luck and caught some nice walleyes.
Various fishing and boating violations were detected.
She assisted in a district work crew.
Time was also spent at public accesses checking boats for invasive species and drain plug violations.

• CO Angela Graham (Hutchinson) reports having a busy opener, and that the walleye bite was very slow.
Officer Graham also checked ATVs, public accesses and reminded boaters of invasive species precautions to take.
Enforcement action was taken on an individual who was angling with extra lines, and had his limit of walleyes before the season opener.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling and boating activity.
Additional time was spent checking and advising boaters of invasive species.
Hatlestad also checked turkey hunting activity, and handled various small and big game issues.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked the traditional cold wet and windy fishing opener.
CO Oberg reports poor fishing on most area lakes, with very few walleye checked.
Enforcement action taken for angling, boating and ATV violations.

DNR continues catfish project, seeks angler help
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking for the public’s help in gathering data on catfish angling and consumption as part of a project to enhance management of the fish.

The project includes DNR tagging catfish to get a better idea of their population and movement.

It also will draw upon catfish anglers who are willing to answer a few survey questions and keep diaries of their angling efforts.

The angler diaries will provide valuable information that is not typically obtained in standard creel surveys, because many catfish anglers fish at night.

Two surveys are currently online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/catfish/index.html.

One survey, which is a statewide survey, asks 10 questions about anglers’ catfish consumption.

The other survey is a continuation of an earlier 12-question survey launched in 2009 and aimed at catfish anglers who fish in the Twin Cities metro region.

Anglers who have already taken the metro survey do not need to take it again.

If a mailing address or email address has changed since taking that survey, changes can be emailed to MetroEast.Catfish@state.mn.us or call (651) 259-5806.

Paper copies of the surveys will be mailed upon request to those unable to fill out the surveys online.

Waterproof paper diaries will be mailed to anglers wishing to participate in keeping catfish angling diaries.

Anglers simply need to supply a pencil and return diaries at the end of the year.

Anglers who catch and release a tagged catfish should record the species, length, tag number and location caught, and release the fish with the tag in place.

Anglers who harvest a tagged fish should record the same information and report the fish as harvested.

Anglers not participating in the catfish angler diary program can still report tagged fish locations using the DNR website www.dnr.state.mn.us/fisheries/tagged_fish_reporting/index.html or by contacting the phone number or email address listed above.

Catfish are becoming more and more popular with Minnesota anglers, and metro rivers are fertile waters for big cats.

The state record flathead catfish, weighing 70 pounds, was caught on the St. Croix River in Washington County.

The record channel cat was pulled from the Mississippi River in Hennepin County.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: When buying firewood for fireplaces or campfires, people may be asked how many cords of wood they need. What is a cord?

A: A cord is the standard measure for a stack of wood, bark and air eight feet long by four feet wide by four feet high, or 128 cubic feet.

Because the long logs are too big to fit in a fireplace or fire pit, sellers may offer cords already cut and split.

The legal standard for a cord of cut, split and ranked wood is 120 cubic feet, since the smaller pieces of wood are stacked tightly together, and contain less air space than a stack of logs.

Woodpiles of differing sizes commonly have different names in the firewood business, such as: rick cord, face cord, fireplace cord or short cord.

For example, if someone buys a rick cord or fireplace cord, he or she is often buying a unit of wood only one-third the amount of wood found in a full-size cord.

To determine the volume of wood in a stack, multiply the dimensions – width by height by length – and compare that to the 120 cubic feet for a full, split and stacked cord.

This will give you a good estimate of how the seller’s unit of wood measures against a full cord.

Outdoor notes

• With some warm weather last week, the morel mushroom hunt is officially on for another year.

The mushrooms haven’t been big, but several hunters reported good success mid-last week with the best part of the season coming up this week.

• Local reports from the fishing opener weren’t good.

Poor weather kept many anglers at home, and those that were out the weekend of the opener struggled catching fish.

One angler, fishing Collinwood for most of the morning and day on the opener, noted only a few boats on the lake, got two walleyes close to the boat, and landed only a few northern pike.

As the week progressed, anglers reported good catches of walleye in shallow water at night on Waconia, and super crappie fishing in the bay and off the pier on Big Waverly.

• Cold water – several anglers, especially those that were fishing Mille Lacs noted cold water temperatures.

On Mille Lacs, water temps on the opener were reported to be still in the low to mid 40s.

On most local lakes, water temps were in the low to mid 50s.

• Late spawn – those cold water temps will most likely create a delay in this year’s sunfish spawn.

The best local sunfish action of the year typically occurs the first week in June during the peak of the spawning period.

This year, the peak of the sunfish spawn will most likely be a week or two later than normal.

• The bass fishing season on lakes in our area opens Saturday, May 28.

Howard, Erie, and the western bays of Lake Minnetonka have been top bass producers the last few years.

• If you haven’t noticed, spring is finally here.

The grass is green, trees are full of leaves, and flowers are blooming.

Last week, there was a noticeable change in my back yard from Wednesday to Thursday.

It seemed the plants and trees really leafed out on those two days. So did the weeds.

• Be aware of ticks and other bugs when you’re in the outdoors.

Wood and deer ticks are out, gnats and mosquitoes should follow shortly.

If you remember, last year’s mosquito season was horrible.

• Right now, any kids and adults are in the middle of, or near the end of DNR-certified firearms safety training classes.

If you’re involved, participating in the class, or have a student in a class, please take the time to thank the volunteer instructors.

They do a great job and without them, the program simply wouldn’t be available.

• Memorial Day is just around the corner, Monday, May 30.

Take the morning off from fishing and use the time to attend one of the many Memorial Day programs in towns across our area.

Without those that have served our country, we wouldn’t have the opportunity or freedom to enjoy hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors that we do.

Many of us tend to forget that enjoying the outdoors is an earned and respected privilege, and not a right.

• Water levels on the Crow River are still high, and the current remains fast.

Last week, I tried to do a little fishing on the river and it was very difficult, almost impossible.

• Take a kid fishing; he or she will have fun, and so will you.